Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Couple of hands

From last night's game at the Casa de Jones that raised some eyebrows. In a set of circumstances that surprised no one, both hands involved me and Jim the Knife.

Let's set the stage a little - Jim and I have played thousands upon thousands of hands of poker. Almost every week for several years, we've spent a few hours sitting across a table from each other. To say that we're familiar with each other's game would be a slight understatement.

The first hand came in a hand of Omaha. Jim and I ended up heads up after his flop bet, and I called a bet on the turn and again on the river. The board was, as is typical with Omaha, fairly coordinated, and I made the call on every street with a pair of aces, king kicker. Obviously this is not an advisable strategy in many circumstances, but Jim and I have played a lot of hands together. I might have mentioned that. I picked up a vibe, nothing I could put a finger on, just an inkling that I was good. Not strong enough to raise, but enough to call the smallish bets he was firing. He'd controlled the pot size well, and he was able to make reasonable sized bets without the pot blowing up and becoming unmanageable. This not only allowed him to make a bet on every street with air, it also allowed me to call on every street with just one pair. There were a few remarks of astonishment around the table when my hand was turned over and I raked the pot, and it all came down to playing the player. I picked up a small pot and moved along, but the read was good and that was what I cared about.

The next hand I still read fairly well, but didn't work out nearly as well for me. I picked up AQo in middle position and raised. Jim three-bet from the button (or maybe cutoff, but I think it was the button). BTW, we're in Hold'em now. There were a couple other callers and I called to see a flop of Q-10-2 with two diamonds. Action checked to me and I bet about $10, close to the size of the pot with top pair, top kicker. Pirate Rob called my bet, Jim raised to $35, and Matt, a solid player who I'd only played with once before, smooth-called the $35. I went deep, deep into the tank and tried to think my way through the hand. I was sitting with about $85 behind, so calling was out of the question. It was either fold top-top or shove. After thinking for a while, I remarked that it was Matt or Pirate Rob that I was sweating, not Jim. This wasn't intended to be a shot at Jim, just that I had narrowed his range to a set of deuces, set of tens, A-Q, K-Q or two big diamonds, which would give him the nut flush and Broadway draws. Since I was ahead of all but two of the hands in his range, I wasn't really sweating the fact that he was going to call my all in regardless.

Frankly, given the money in the middle and the amount to call, he had to call my all in. It was an extra $50 or so to win $100 or more, so as long as he didn't have complete air or a gutty, he had to call. Note that neither of those were in the range I put him on. But I don't know enough about Matt's range, and his smooth-call of the $35 had me really concerned. In the end I shipped it in, Pirate Rob folded, Jim snap-called, Matt got out of the way, and Jim tabled a set of tens. Given the range I put him on and where I was against most of that range, I make the same move every time. And given that I was ahead of 60% of his range (or more), it's +EV long-term.

Overall I felt like I played moderately well last night. I called way, way too much preflop, but to me at least it became a game of floating and catching up. Some nights it's about starting well, some nights it's about getting there. Last night I got there. One of my biggest hands was one that Bad Blood got away from, and damn him for it. In Omaha the flop came down Jx-10d-Jd, and my hand was J-A-9-6. I checked the flop, and called Blood's bet. I check-raised when the turn brought the 6d, and Blood and Pirate Rob both called. River was a 9 and I fired a decent-sized bet. Blood went so far into the tank I was afraid he'd have the bends when he finally came out, but he folded his pocket tens. Rob got away from his flush, and when the prop bets were made on what we had I showed the turned boat that improved on the river. It was a nice pot, but Blood made the monster laydown to save a big chunk of his stack.

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